For the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ

Archive for May, 2012

Did Pentecost really happen in the upper room? – Part 2


In Part 1 of this series, time markers located in the Scriptural text gives the student clues as to time, place and location that can be extremely helpful when exegeting the Word of God.  So continuing on, we need to also further note, as found in the text, there is another time marker that places them in the Temple precincts too:

Acts 2:6

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:14-15

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:  For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

Here is the most convincing time-marker, the acknowledgement that it was the ‘third hour of the day.’ Why? The faithful Jewish person worshipped according to the pre-set watches set up throughout the day. There were four watches during the day time and four watches at night. The third hour of the day corresponds to one of these watches and people who lived in Jerusalem would be in the Temple praying at 9 a.m. This is why Peter (notice that he has to rise up) stands up with the eleven to address the crowds that have run into the location where the 120 have just experienced the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter unequivocally states that the people are not drunk with wine as some of the people suspected, especially since they heard them speaking with other tongues and knew that they were Galileans.

The miracle of Pentecost was that Jews who had come into Israel from other parts of the world (the Scriptures list seventeen different nations), heard the disciples speaking praises to God and His wonderful works in their own languages.

Acts 2:8-13

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.  And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Seventeen different nations heard the disciples speaking in their own languages, and of these seventeen nations, they were comprised of both Jews and proselytes. The fact that the Scriptures mention proselytes tells us that these were gentiles who had adopted the faith of the Jews. But let us further look at the text, there were ‘others’ who began to mock and say that these people were merely drunk with wine. These ‘others’ most likely did not hear the disciples speak in other languages, but only heard them ‘babbling gibberish’ which caused them to mock them and declare that they were drunkards. Perhaps those that heard them speak in verified other tongues were devout believers with faithful hearts towards their God and those that only heard them babbling gibberish had cynical hearts. We can find textual evidence to establish this precedent in that when God speaks not everyone discerns His voice:

John 12:28-29

Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

It is a fact that after the Lord’s crucifixion, His disciples were hiding for fear of their lives. However, after the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and assured His disciples that He was alive forevermore, they began to regain some sense of purpose for their lives. When they began to perceive that their lives could once again commence, they also at this time began venturing outside their hiding places. This is another plausible reason why the disciples were at the Temple praying at the prescribed times.

Now after they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they each were now filled with a new-found boldness with the sudden realization of the spiritual power and authority that had been conferred upon them. So we see this in:

Acts 2:14-18

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

This new-found display of boldness should be in the line-up when considering the types of miracles that took place that morning. Here for the most part, were unschooled fishermen, farmers and other tradespeople that were now able to stand up to the educated elite and hold their own so to speak. This is why those elite stood puzzled and then asked the question, “Are these not all Galileans?” Since Galilee was in the northern most part of Israel and it was sequestered due to the land of Samaria situated between them and the lower part of Israel, they were often looked upon as being uneducated country bumpkins.

As a last note as it were, the Scriptures do not give us a geographical placement for the location of the upper room. However, the Lord Jesus often resorted and rested either in Bethany or the Mt. of Olives, two of His favorite places. This is another reason that the initial Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit was probably not received in either of these two places. Simply put, Bethany was almost two miles from Jerusalem and the Mt. of Olives was approximately one half mile from the city. When they were hiding in fear, the Mt. of Olives would have been too close for comfort so to speak. Bethany was a little further away but this is also where Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived. Lazarus had been the Lord’s close friend as well as his sisters and so since the Jews knew of the close relationship that existed between the Lord and Lazarus’ family, it is not likely that His disciples would be hiding out in the upstairs room of their home. This would have been the first place that would have been searched.

So as a diligent student of the Word of God, we are commanded to ‘rightly divide the Word of God.’ In doing so it is paramount that we lay down our preconceived ideas and traditions, even if we received them in the confines of a church. We must be willing to search out the Scriptures even as the Bereans were wont to do and so must we be willing to take a new fresh look, and gain a new perspective, returning to the Truth of the Scriptures and no longer relying upon the traditions of mankind. Tradition can be wonderful, but when it comes to the Word of God (and tradition attempts to circumvent Truth), the diligent student of the Scriptures must part ways and remain true to the straight and narrow path that the Lord Jesus commanded us to walk on as we engage the manifested Kingdom of Heaven that is available right now.

1 Peter 1:21

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

 

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Did Pentecost really happen in the upper room? – Part 1


Pentecostal outpouring - by Cristianity Today

In my last article The Biblical imagery of Pentecost, the imagery of the powerful display of wind and fire was examined in some detail.  The place where the initial Pentecost experience happened will be the focus in this article.

This would be a proper place to interject a potential challenge to the traditional place where the advent of Pentecost happened. Tradition cites that it happened in the upper room, however, there were 120 people present. Most Jewish homes in that day weren’t equipped to accommodate that many people at one time, and the Scriptures do not attest necessarily to this fact either.

Acts 1:13-14

And when they had come in, they went up into an upper room where abode both Peter and James, and John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James.

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.

If we look at the line up of who is living in this upper room, it is the eleven disciples who are all males. In examining the textual evidence, v. 14 states ‘These all continued…’, the words ‘these all’ in this verse refer to the preceding mention of the eleven disciples who were living in the upper room.  The women who had followed the Lord Jesus’ ministry and His Mother and His biological brethren are listed but not necessarily were they living there.  But it should be noted that it says nothing of an additional 90-100 people being jam-packed in this room. It is the last verse that mentions their continual habit of being in prayer and supplication, and while the faithful Jewish person also prayed in their own homes, let us look at the next verse.

Acts 1:15

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (the number of names altogether were about a hundred and twenty) and said…

Verse 14 is a transitional verse to indicate a separation of time and place. Authors, old and new use literary devices such as time compression to avoid boring their readers and the Biblical writers have done no less. Verse 15 opens with ‘…in those days…’ which is a clear time-marker that sometime during those 10 days, Peter stood up to address the 120 disciples so that they could choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot. So here is where the 120 disciples make their debut into the text.

But the most likely location for this speech is probably on one of the porches that surrounded the Temple in Jerusalem.  One of the public porches would have been an excellent location because women, children and gentiles alike could congregate there in freedom. If Jewish women wished to go inside and pray, they were limited to only being allowed in the women’s section. Jewish men could proceed further into the section where the non-Levitical men were allowed, but gentiles were only allowed in the court set aside for their specific purposes. We need to remember that because women were present with the men too, their needs were being considered.  While the Lord Jesus allowed women to travel with Him and be His disciples too, the rest of the world was still functioning with the repressive idea that women should be occasionally seen and barely heard.  This explains the Lord Jesus’ penchant for teaching outside the Temple, simply due to all of the ritualistic restrictions in place that limited people from approaching near to their God.

With this information in mind, one of the porches (probably Solomon’s) was probably where Pentecost happened. It is highly unlikely that after such a spectacular event (if they truly were in the upper room), that they would have then left the room to noise it abroad.  When the presence of God manifests, human flesh cannot stand under the weight of His Glory, and people generally remain bowed, with their faces towards the ground.  Textual evidence for this can be found in:

2 Chronicles 7:1-3

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.  And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.  And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Revelation 1:16-17

And He had in His right hand seven stars, and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword, and His countenance shone as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, “Fear not; I am the First and the Last.

However, if indeed they were gathered together and praying on one of the porches (as this writer is positing), they were witnesses as the Holy Spirit began to descend in such awesome magnificence.  They beheld God as He began birthing the New Testament church in a public venue. It would not have taken long for the other people on or around the porch who were watching this event, for them to begin shouting it out to everyone else.  Word of this colossal event quickly spread throughout the Temple precincts and people began rushing in to see what was happening.

We will continue this study in Part 2.  God Bless.

 


The Biblical imagery of Pentecost


 

The celebration of Pentecost is held 50 days after the wave offering at the Feast of Weeks which signaled the end of the grain harvest.  Pentecost also marks the birth of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The prophecy concerning the coming time of Pentecost can first be found in the book of Joel and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of this prophecy is found in the book of Acts.

Joel 2:28-29

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;  and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The fulfillment of this prophecy came when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came upon those who were gathered together for daily prayer.  They were waiting for the promise that the Lord Jesus had spoken about, but as of yet they did not know the day that it would come to pass.

Acts 2:1-4

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.   And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

There are two predominant elements that the Holy Spirit utilized to enable those present to be able to know that He was present and was falling upon each of them, filling them with His empowerment from on High.  These two elements were fire and wind.  First the wind that came in was as a sound of a rushing, mighty wind.  This was not the sound that a gentle southern breeze would make as it lifted a few locks upon the head.  This was a pure attention-getter in that perhaps those that were walking at that moment might have stopped to listen. Those that were kneeling or sitting in prayer could very well have stopped to listen as well because this would have been a spectacular introduction.  Spectacular because it was the birth of the New Testament church.  Besides, God most definitely does not work out of a hole-in-the-wall.

The other element was fire.  As the Holy Spirit descended and began to fill the 120 disciples that were gathered there that morning, tongues as of fire began to dance upon their heads.  Most iconography depict these tongues of fire in a rather tame display, however, it is posited that this was also a spectacular showstopper as well.  This writer envisions a sound like a type of “swoosh” that fire makes, especially when you pour an accelerant upon the fire.  Also, that the flames would have correspondingly rushed upwards in a gigantic flame-roll, reaching upwards to heaven from whence it came.

In the Scriptures, fire is used to denote the very presence of God and it also is used to signify great power.  We see this in:

Exodus 13:21

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, to go by day and night.

The Lord Jesus demonstrated His power and authority over the wind and the sea in the earthly realm in:

Luke 8:24

And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.

But beyond this, in the OT, the Hebrew word for ‘breath’ or ‘wind’ is ruach, which is also used to indicate spirit.  In this case however, it was not just a ‘spirit’, but the Holy Spirit Himself.  So what significance does the tongues of fire have for today’s Christian?  While that powerful display was a one-time phenomena, the imagery of the fire, or God’s presence covering the disciples’ heads also lends itself to today’s church.  In that we also as born-again children of God also are blessed with the covering of God’s presence through His Holy Spirit.  The imagery of the rushing, mighty wind lends itself to the knowledge that Yeshua, the Christ still wields His power and authority over the natural earth realm as well as the heavenly, as He sits enthroned with His Father in heaven.

If you haven’t asked the Lord Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior as of yet, and you would like to Get a Life, confess Him as your Lord and Savior, and your new family will see you in church tomorrow and we will celebrate Pentecost together.  God Bless!


Pentecost Sunday – an empowerment for today’s Christian


 

Pentecost Sunday 2012 will be on May 27th this year.  Biblical tradition cites that this feast is called by the Jews, Shauvott.  The feast of Pentecost is a Greek word indicating that there are 50 days from the time of the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost.  Pentecost is associated with the birth of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the disciples of the Lord Jesus began to speak with other tongues.  This enduement of power from on high upon the Lord’s disciples is that which allowed those from other countries the ability to understand what was happening.

This powerful event is what empowered the disciples to be full of zeal and exude this new power from on high, giving them a boldness to confront those that opposed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit came in with a huge sound of wind that filled the place where they were and the disciples of the Lord also manifested tongues of fire that were leaping upon their heads.

This year there is a global initiative being conducted whose goal is to teach and preach about the Holy Spirit so that everyone will be educated on this topic by the year 2033.  This initiative is called Empowered21.  Strange as it may be, few Pentecostal churches celebrate the day of Pentecost.

Empowered21 is seeking to change the fact that only the mainline churches celebrate Pentecost by reaching out globally to the Pentecostal denomination.  Some of the following are their objectives that they are hoping to fully achieve by the year 2033.

  • To Unite the Global Spirit-filled movement together intergenerationally for the purpose of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st Century
  • To Focus the energy and resources of the Spirit-empowered global church on the harvest and challenges before us
  • To Provide a platform for addressing the crucial issues facing the 21st Century Spirit-empowered church
  • To Discover contemporary methods, vocabulary, spiritual grace and relational favor needed for engaging every generation in Spirit-empowered living
  • To Witness greater convergence and collaboration of Spirit-empowered ministries around the World

If you are a pastor, hopefully you will be planning your worship services around the celebration of Pentecost.  If you are not already involved with Empowered21, this would be a good time to check out the events that they are planning.

 


A Biblical perspective concerning Jesus and women, Part 5


Well, here at last is Part 5 of this series, concerning how the Lord Jesus interacted with the women who followed Him and those that He encountered as He traveled. We stopped in Part 4 at John 4:25-26, at which point the Lord Jesus had boldly declared to this despised woman that HE was the long-awaited-for Messiah. As a recap, this was a time, at least culturally, that Jewish men did not speak to women; barely did they speak to their wives or daughters, and most certainly they did not speak to Samaritans, let alone a Samaritan woman. So let us continue:

John 4:27

And upon this came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or Why talkest thou with her?

As we come upon this scene as it is written in the Scriptures, the Jewish culture of that day is demonstrated in that they were clearly shocked that the Jewish Rabbi that they were following was clearly not behaving like any other Rabbi that they had ever seen or heard about. Yet they were too intimidated by the Lord Jesus’ status as a Rabbi to question His behavior. It is at this point that in:

John 4:28-29

The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

In that culture, because one had to walk to a community well to draw your water supply for the day, women did not just haphazardly leave their water jars lying around the precincts of the town in which they lived. The water pot was a functional tool that they used each and every day, and even if they were relatively inexpensive to buy or to make, women still did not just leave them anywhere they felt like leaving them. So what does this tell us about the Samaritan woman’s state? She was obviously wildly excited that she had just heard from the Lord Jesus’ own lips that HE was the Messiah. However, because she lived within the confines of her own culture as well, she knew that the word of a woman would be doubted, unless of course there were at least two other women who could vouch for the first woman.  She knew that she would have to get the men interested in coming out to see for themselves this prophet at the well.

In the meanwhile, Jesus’ disciples were trying to get their Master to eat some food, since it was now noon time, but the Lord Jesus said:

John 4:34

…My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.

Totally uninterested in physical food at this point, the Lord Jesus launches off into a teaching moment for His disciples and questions them with:

John 4:35

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and comes harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

At this time of the year, this was most likely the barley harvest that would have been ready in the next four months, and it would have looked like the field was white. However, it is thought that the Lord Jesus was also viewing all of the towns’ people, that were by now crossing the fields to come towards Him and primarily they would have been wearing white clothing.

John 4:39, 42

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him  ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

This despised woman with whom even the other women in the town would not openly socialize with, was chosen by the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, to be the first one ever to hear openly His proclamation that He was the Messiah to the World. Even the men were grudgingly acknowledging that she was right, even though they hedged their comments with, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying…”    It indeed was because of her own word of testimony that He was THAT prophet…the one that everyone had heard about and up to that point were still waiting for His arrival.   Jesus had just now identified Himself to a woman who in the view of her contemporary society, didn’t amount to much in anyone’s eyes.

It is interesting to see how throughout the Gospels, the Lord Jesus interacted with the women of His day in an openly accepting manner, thereby letting these women know that He valued them as people in their own right.  The Creator, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ had originally created both man and woman, creating them as equal beings in His sight, and said, “It is good!”

If you would like to read more about the passages that I covered here in Part Five concerning Biblical women and especially about the Gospel of John 3-4, I have written a book titled, The Holy, The Common and The Despised.  It is available for purchase for $10.00 and you can follow this link to New Covenant Christian Ministries’ website to obtain a copy for yourself.   God Bless.


Mother’s Day celebrates Mothers and Motherhood


Mother’s Day will be celebrated on May 13th, 2012 and we will celebrate the state of Motherhood across this nation.  Mothers everywhere will be honored and children will be expressing their thankfulness for their Moms.  Florists will be especially busy as this is their version of  Black Friday and Saturday, in that their phones will be continually busy and the door to their stores will be constantly letting in new customers ready to purchase that dozen of eye-popping red roses or a bouquet of their Mother’s favorite flowers.  Telephone companies also report that this is one day that the telephone lines are fairly jumping as children everywhere call their Mother’s to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day.

But there is one Mother who has been honored because of her pure obedience to God through her faith in God by allowing the Holy Spirit to hover over her and cause her to be with child while she was yet a virgin.  Mary like all Mothers demonstrated the sacrifices that she would have to make in her capacity of Mother through her obedience to God.  Her first sacrifice was in her submission to allow the Holy Spirit to conceive the Messiah in her womb.  Why was this a sacrifice?  In the day that Mary lived, if a girl or a woman, according to the Mosaic Law, was found to be with child it was tantamount to an admission to the charge of either fornication or adultery and the sentence was death by stoning.

Mary, as a devout Jewess, knew the penalty for the sin of adultery.  For her to agree to this showed her total trust in her God, that He would provide a way around the impending accusations of adultery and the ultimate price of her death.  The Mosaic Law was very clear on this subject; if a girl or woman was out in the field and was attacked, she had to scream for help even if there was no one who could help her.  In these cases there was mercy.  However, if she was in the city and attacked, it was an admission of consent if she didn’t scream.  Mary was also cognizant of the shame that would be placed upon her and her family, as well as Joseph, her espoused husband.

In Jewish society, being espoused was the same as being fully married in the sight of the Law.  When a couple became espoused to one another, the bride usually went to the groom’s parents’ house and lived with her husband-to-be for up to one year, learning to live together.  The groom’s mother would teach her daughter-in-law how to please her son and prepare her to be a good wife.  When the time (up to a year) was almost complete the date for the consummation of a newlywed’s marriage vows was set by the local Levitical priest.

Therefore, when Mary had to tell Joseph that she was already pregnant, even though Mary told him that she had an angelic visitation, Mary was totally trusting God that He had prepared Joseph to receive this information.  The Scriptures relate that later that night, Joseph had a dream given to him by God, telling him to not to fear to take Mary as his wife.

Christians can be thankful for these two very faithful people, Mary and Joseph who allowed their God to work so mightily in their lives.  As Mary found out, being a mother usually entails great sacrifices.  Mothers all over the world make these sacrifices each and every day, such as giving the last piece of cake to their child instead of themselves, staying up late to wash and dry the clothes that their family will need for the next day, etc.  The list could go on and on without end.

So here’s to all of the Mothers who give so much to your families.  God Bless you on this Mother’s Day.


Following those that have gone before us


The Scriptures admonish Christians to stay to the road most frequently traveled, that is the road or pathway that the Lord Christ laid out for His disciples to follow.  By the world’s standards, it is the road not frequently traveled on, simply because this path gets more narrower the longer you travel on it.  The longer you walk in the Christian life, oftentimes the more difficult it gets.  Why?  The Lord expects more from you.  Once the Lord gets you past the baby hurdles, the steeper the mountain climbs He begins to take you through on your way upward.  For the most part, your Christian brothers and sisters will be there to coach and cheer you on, however, sometimes there are those who claim to be Christian who do everything in their power to cause you to stumble.  We even find evidence of this in the first testament Scriptures.

Jeremiah 19:14-18

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which comes from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passes thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity. Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the Word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

 

Israel had tired of hearing the admonitions of the Lord from the prophet Jeremiah, who obviously was intonating dire warnings from the Lord God Himself. When people (whether or not they consider themselves to be the people of God) rebel against the Lord God, and they continually hear prophetic utterances declaring that they need to repent, a heart that becomes hardened is often the result. This is what can be observed in this passage; so let us look at:

Jeremiah 19:18c

Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

The heart being hardened is what produces this sort of response, even from people that consider themselves to be born again Christians. This is not something that most people like to think about, let alone talk about, so when the Holy Spirit begins to convict people, this will be the ultimate response if they do not repent. So let us look at a passage in Acts which also confirms this:

Acts 7:54-58

When they heard these things they were cut to the heart (conviction), and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Imagine…grown men putting their hands upon their ears to shut out Stephen’s words. But they weren’t just words that Stephen was speaking, it was the Holy Spirit that was speaking through Stephen. This is why these people felt convicted and were cut to the heart. They knew that what they just heard was an accurate description of their spiritual state and so they hated the one who was bearing the message. If I myself speak words, they are just my words and they might contain some power or they may not. But if I am led under the unction of the Holy Spirit, then my words cease to be “my words” and they become the “words of the Holy Spirit”, with power and authority.

But as this passage depicts, when they were convicted, the first thing that they wanted to do was to cause the irritation to go away, even if it was to murder the irritation. Now let us return to Jeremiah, which upon further consideration, this is what was happening to these people. They were being convicted and they wanted Jeremiah to be quiet and speak no more. However, they were not to the point of murdering Jeremiah, but they were going to set up a campaign of lies and innuendoes against the prophet.

Jeremiah 19:18c

Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

Often, when a person stands up and makes an apology for the Word of God, the devil determines to try and destroy the believer by discrediting his/her testimony by belittling and spewing forth lies and innuendoes in an attempt to get the apologist to be quiet and stop speaking the Word of God.  We as the people of God are to make an “apology,” which in the Greek, is the word Απολογια, or apologia, which means to make a cogent defense, or a strong defense.

Revelation 12:10-13

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation, strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the BLOOD of the LAMB, and by the WORD of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death. Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and you that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

So as Jeremiah and Stephen was doing, so are we to be busy occupying ourselves by carrying out the business of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be making an Απολογια, or a strong and cogent defense of the Word of God. Let the _evil rant and rage as he hears us make bold proclamations of the Glory of the Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our King!  Let those that continue to stand, pray for those that have fallen away from the narrow road that our Lord commanded us to walk.

So even as we continue to walk, we need to remember that we are enveloped by a host of faithful servants who are there for our example.  We only need look at:

Hebrews 11:1-2

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

If you live in the greater Chicago Metro area, and you need prayer, you can call the ministry at (773) 255-8730.  We will be glad to pray with you and assist you in your endeaver to stay on the straight and narrow path that our Lord Christ commanded that we walk.